Blitz Esports caught up with Raymond “KaSing” Tsang at the EU LCS finals, following Splyce's victory over Team Vitality to talk about the evolution of the support role, the recent sightstone changes, and his first split with Splyce.
Apdo said recently that he thinks supports have a ton of carry potential lately, and that they may even be too strong. Do you think agree with those statements?
I actually agree with him, because I feel like supports long ago were fucking useless, and we were just ward bots. In solo queue, wards didn't really matter since, if your teammates in solo queue don't use their maps anyway, then what's the point of having wards, you know? I just felt like supports had no general role apart from just being ward bots.
But now the fact that support meta has kind of changed, where you're playing more melee supports where you're actually more influential in team fights compared to a ranged support. I mean I still like Janna, Lulu, and all that kind of stuff—Zilean even—but I just feel like the tank champions actually provide more, especially in competitive, but maybe in solo queue ranged supports are better because, if you have winning lane, usually it means you win the game. Most of the time it's like, maybe the enemy is autofilled, or the jungler is autofilled, etc.
I guess supports having more gold does give them more items to use stuff? If a support takes, say, I don't know, banner, as his first item, this is way more impactful for top or mid, because maybe it's a champion that can't wave clear, you know? That basically turns their entire lane over, whereas before, supports didn't have gold and couldn't do that. So I agree with him.
The recent Sightstone removal changes, made it so that you no longer have to opt between rushing items over getting vision. You can just sit on your ward item and it will eventually become a Sightstone active. So what do you think about this change? Do you like it, or did you prefer getting a lead and that meant getting an early Sightstone - and competitive, translating your advantage of having that early Sightstone to get more vision?
I think it's nice for supports to itemize already toward their first item, rather than just Sightstone into whatever, because it feels like that 800 gold spike... —if you're a support and you didn't buy it, then you're behind, because if you don't have vision for your team, then you've lost. So in a way it's good, but as a support you kind of have to understand which item is the best. Because some ranged matchups you buy coin instead of Spellthief's because you know that you can't trade. Whereas some—even Thresh right now—a lot of people are starting to buy coin on him because, even if you go Relic Shield, you don't really benefit that much because of your range and they've nerfed the ratio of ranged champions. It's not always the optimal one to buy Targon's, because that was what everyone bought before, but I feel maybe the fact that now, support items being the Sightstone now, that allows support to transition to have more impact. I think it's a good change, because supports before were: you either buy Sightstone, or otherwise you lose.
Earlier in the season, ranged supports weren't that popular, but you were always playing champions such as Janna, Lulu, and Zilean. Why this specific pool?
I think the reason why I played a lot of ranged compared to tanks, it's not that I can never play tanks. I mean I can, but I just always felt like, back then, ranged supports provided more, provided you play the lane phase correctly. Because if you play the lane correctly, and if the tank never gets a kill on you, then eventually you're gonna outscale them. As you saw in the Fnatic game, basically you just play Karma plus any AD carry like Tristana, she can just legit go in and do what she wants and that's kind of the same concept with Zilean, where you buff the AD carry at 99% MS and he does whatever he wants you know? If you AD Carry breaks his hands then it's over, I'll never pick Zilean again. But I always thought that ranged supports would do well against melee provided your jungle is playing around you.
As the season progressed, I felt like it didn't really work out at some points. We were going 1-1 a lot, and I think we went 1-1 six times. I felt like it wasn't good enough to get us further. I still feel personally that ranged supports are still good, provided the team plays around it correctly. Back in the beginning of the season, the reason that we played ranged was just the fact that we weren't really comfortable playing around mid or top, and we were more comfortable playing around bot, which is why I got counter picks in most matches, or most games actually.
Enchanter supports have always been popular in solo queue and always had the highest win rate champions in their role for several months. Janna is the biggest offender, she's been top win rate for several years, for almost every patch. Do you think these these champions need a nerf because of their low skill floor, even though their skill ceiling might be higher? Or does the playing field need to be leveled by buffing the rest of the competition?
Riot tried to nerf Janna in a way to fuck her up by nerfing the cooldown on E, but the way I see it, the fact you can buy items that actually increase the shield itself with +10% healing/shield power is the issue, not the cooldown. I felt like it was the shield itself because, as you know, late game, as a support Janna if you're shielding someone for like 500 or 600 that's still a shit ton for a support, not to mention your ulti which would heal for maybe 1 to 1.2k.
I don't know, I just feel like there's ways to play around it with having to nerf that champion. Just because the win rate is high in solo queue doesn't necessarily mean the champion is really broken. Although obviously she has high rank for a reason, and I think that's mainly because of the fact that, in solo queue, few people don't really know how to punish her correctly.
You just think it's a bigger problem with the items stacking up and making her powerful, more so than the champion itself?
Yeah, they tried to nerf Redemption as well before, where Redemption was healing maybe five or six hundred and then they made it lower now, but I felt like these items was what made Janna OP, like ardent, they tried to nerf ardent too but it didn't seem to work out that well, they lowered it but it still has shield power.
That's the thing. Enchanters will always be more useful provided your team, or your AD carry, is able to be like a hyper carry, basically. If he's not a hyper carry, I feel like it's quite useless.
After Vitality, you were out of LCS for a year. You were inactive in spring and then you played for Team RB in summer, where you failed to qualify back to LCS. Can you talk a bit about that year?
After Vitality, I was actually trying out for some other teams as well, including NA teams as well, and I felt like in the end, I didn't get the tryout spot–I can just say it now, it was Immortals—and I wanted to join them at the time because I felt like it was the best option for me. Obviously they still did well so I'm not salty or anything because I know in the end, Olleh was the better player at the time. I think for me, after that, I was basically wandering a bit. I didn't want to go into LCS with a bottom tier team. I had LCS offers, but it wasn't something I really wanted to pursue, otherwise it's like joining LCS just to be there, and I don't want to just join LCS and play and have the idea that, "Oh, we're not going to go to Worlds, or we're not going to go to top three again." With Splyce, the reason why I joined Splyce is mainly because the fact that I felt like we could definitely reach top three, which we did, so I have got this goal and obviously there are some other EU LCS teams as well that I had some offers from, and in the end I chose Splyce.
But regarding the whole year, I was basically in Korea for two months with Red Bull. I didn't have to join them, even when I was in Korea, they asked me to just join them and basically play with them with scrims and stuff, and if I didn't like it then fine, I could just go. During that time, I felt like the meta was really good around mid/jungle, and I had Moojin and Magifelix as my players and they were playing really really good in Korean scrims and stuff as well, so I felt like this roster could definitely reach its potential with Thal as well and Sedrion.
I think the reason why we didn't qualify is just the fact that, when the meta changes and we don't adapt to it, then there's nothing you can do if you didn't adapt enough or fast enough. And that's a big—not issue—but it's like, if you have a team that doesn't have enough coaching staff to help the team out in terms of making sure that they understand or read the patch notes correctly, or understand what's best in the meta, then you'll always be at a disadvantage.
And that's one of the big things we things didn't have in Red Bulls. We didn't have a proper coach, we had IzpAH, but he was more of a manager, so he was never really in a coaching role, and there wasn't anyone that can actually help us. So it was actually just me and four rookies, and most of the time it was like, if we had to analyze the game and stuff, it was mainly me teaching four players how to play the game.
For me personally, my only goal was to try to step up and be a leader, and in a way it did help me, because I felt more confident in my ability to shotcall, my ability to pull the trigger, and I think it showed when I play Rakan or something. I know exactly when to go, and I have to make sure that my team trusts me, otherwise if I ever go in there, I'm fucked. But I'm happy about that because, even though we lost, it's still been a really good experience for me. I had some family issues as well, like my dad was in the hospital and stuff, so that's actually why I didn't play for spring split. So it kind of sucks, but in the end, it worked out I think.
Was the coaching staff one of the main reasons you joined Splyce? For people like Peter Dun, who was one of their first announcements?
The thing is, I actually didn't even know who he was before, and I felt like this was just some random guy who's just there to collect his money in EU and just be one of those coaches that basically chats shit, like whatever and in the end when you're meant to know what to do like know how to draft and stuff, they just don't know much.
And you can kind of see the level between basic coaching and a high-level coach. There are obviously coaches like pr0lly, for example, who has been an ex-player, and I think because I've had pr0lly before that was my comparison of a really good coach in my opinion, I felt like he always knew a lot about match ups and understanding the game, just because of the fact that he's been a player before. So I was a bit skeptical about Peter in the beginning, but Peter did deliver in terms of what he knew, I felt like he was always understanding which were the best scenarios. I was quite surprised, because when I spoke to him in the interview process, I was really confused, I felt like, even though he said he hadn't been a pro player before, he actually knew a lot about the game.
Finally, tell me a bit about how Splyce works in game. Who leads comms, in the bot lane for trading, and then overall in the game.
So basically it's usually me. I do the talking for bot lane anyway between me and Kobbe. Kobbe is way more—he's not silent, maybe at the beginning of the split he was very quiet. But as the split progressed, he improved a lot, and I feel like he's made a big difference now, compared to before. And now it's like, I still talk between us two, but he now gives more info in terms of what he thinks can be good too, so we're more like a duo now.
And regarding Splyce as a team, usually it's between Xerxe, he calls early game with what he's doing and stuff, and we play accordingly to what he—we play for the jungle, basically. We're not a team that just plays one lane, like bot or top or mid. We just play for the jungle, and basically Xerxe leads us in terms of what he's doing, and then mid/late, Odoamne and I shotcall. Basically for me, my role in this team is basically to make sure that we understand what the goal is, what our win condition is, what we're doing on the map, and making sure that we're sticking to it.
Photo Credit: lolesports
Disclosure: Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends, is an investor in Blitz Esports.